Schoolboys break seven-year Trans-Tasman hoodoo with win over New Zealand

Schoolboys
by Emma Greenwood

Australia have broken a seven-year hoodoo against New Zealand Schools, surviving spirited fightback from the Kiwis in the final minutes to win the Trans-Tasman Shield with an 18-14 victory in Hamilton.

The Australians defended like terriers throughout the match, thwarting the Kiwis at every turn for the first hour of the match.

New Zealand put massive pressure on the Australians in the opening minutes, controlling 90 per cent of territory and 80 per cent of possession in the opening seven minutes of the match.

But the Aussies withstood the challenge and made the most of their own opportunities, counter-attacking brilliantly and continuing to attack aggressively at every opportunity.

After taking a 12-0 lead to halftime - one that could have been greater had hooker Billy Pollard not been denied a try just before the break - the Australians increased their lead before the Kiwis fought back, threatening to steal a late victory.

The Aussies put themselves under enormous pressure after conceding penalties, with New Zealand going to their lineout twice and a scrum once after the whistle. But they were unable to break the Australian wall.

Australia scored the first try through magnificent counter-attack, with winger Tolu Koula finishing the move he started inside his own 22.

With the Kiwis on the attack, Koula capitalised on a handling error and turned defence into attack, linking with his back three before Australia spread the ball through multiple sets of hands going from one side of the field to the other before Koula finished the move by crossing for a try in the left corner.

The Aussies almost doubled their advantage just minutes later when Joseph Sualii chipped ahead, with the bounce just beating him across the dead ball line.

Australia was called on to defend again though as the Kiwis pushed and did so beautifully, with lock Hugh Bockenham eventually winning a turnover as the Aussies pushed their opponents from side to side looking for any chink in the defensive line.

The possession gain led to another Australian score, flanker Will Roach planting the ball with a pick and drive after Australia's forwards swarmed forward.

The Kiwis made a desperate drive just before the break, only to be denied again when Australia pilfered the ball close to their own line, with hooker Pollard racing almost 100m and looking to have scored before the officials ruled he knocked on just before the line.

The Australian continued their march in the second term, Reesjan Pasitoa converting a penalty in the opening five minutes, before knocking through another five minutes later to give his side an 18-point advantage.

Flanker Will Roach dived over from the back of the ruck to score Australia's second try. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan Hertel

The Kiwis finally broke through just short of the hour mark, flanker Cam Church racing down the short side to score after Australia conceded a penalty.

Under pressure in the closing minutes, Australia finally exhausted the patience of the referee, with no.8 Alex Masibaka sin binned for a professional foul.

The Kiwis took a quick tap and when replacement Dom Gardiner plucked a looping pass from above is head to dive over, they were within a try, with just minutes remaining.

The Australian defence again stood tall though, the scrum winning a crucial short-arm penalty before the forwards controlled the ball until the final whistle to seal a historic win.

RESULT

Australian Schools and U18s 18

Tries: Koula, Roach

Cons: Pasitoa

Pens: Pasitoa 2

Yellow card: Alex Masibaka 66'

New Zealand Schools

Tries: Church, Gardiner

Cons: Morgan, Lewis